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Queen’s researcher in precision medicine receives international honour

[Parvin Mousavi]
Parvin Mousavi (School of Computing) was presented with the C.C. Gotlieb Computer Award during the IEEE Canada Awards Gala on May 6. (University Communications)

Precision medicine is an emerging approach, which takes into account various factors impacting a person’s overall health status, including genetics, while recognizing that a one-size-fits-all model in diagnoses and treatment no longer applies to the provision of optimal care. Parvin Mousavi’s (School of Computing) research on machine learning focuses on creating better solutions for diagnosing disease, treating patients, and clinical interventions that are patient-specific. The availability of large amounts of data at many resolutions and from many sources, as well as the huge boost in machine learning and deep learning algorithms in the past five years further drive Dr. Mousavi’s goal of making precision medicine a greater reality.

Recently, Dr. Mousavi’s work in this area was recognized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest technical professional organization for the advancement of technology. Dr. Mousavi is the recipient of the IEEE’s 2019 Canada C.C. Gotlieb Computer Award, a prize awarded to outstanding Canadian engineers recognized for their important contributions to the field of computer engineering and science.

“I’m very happy and humbled that the IEEE and my colleagues have acknowledged the contributions I’ve made in this field,” says Dr. Mousavi. “I think my research is making computers more accessible and more relevant in disease diagnosis, clinical interventions and surgeries. I am also thrilled that the IEEE has recognized the increasing impact and potential of computing and engineering innovations in bettering our health and the outcomes from medical interventions.”

Dr. Mousavi’s work has added greater depth to detection of disease, and determining appropriate treatments by combining machine learning with multifaceted data from medical images, bio-signals, and genomic markers. The applications of these methodologies help inform earlier and more accurate diagnosis of cancer, early interventions in critical care, and appropriate treatments while enabling patient-specific decision-making. 

Over the years, the field of computing has evolved and become ever more pervasive and complementary to various industries; the medical field is no exception.

“Computing is changing clinical decision making, especially with machine learning,” says Dr. Mousavi. “In today’s world, computer scientists have the opportunity to impact many aspects of our daily lives, augmenting critical, highly complex problem solving requirements such as those in the field of medicine. This is quite different to the role computing has played previously, or portrayed.” 

 Dr. Mousavi’s work has not only changed the nature of diagnosis and treatment of disease, she has also gained recognition as an inspirational woman in technology, as seen in her recent feature in Computer Vision News.

“I would like to see more women in computing win these awards,” says Dr. Mousavi “I hope as we see more women engaged in computing in our younger generations and students, we will also see more recognition for their contributions.”

As the Queen’s School of Computing celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Dr. Mousavi is greatly supported by her colleagues and students at Queen’s University.

“No one can work in my field in isolation,” says Dr. Mousavi. “It is a field that requires support from a group including undergraduate students, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, staff, other faculty members, colleagues and collaborators. I feel that I could not have achieved any of this without being part of the School and Queen’s, and so well supported.”

Dr. Mousavi was presented with the award during the IEEE Canada Awards Gala on May 6. For more information on the IEEE, visit the website.